With the Covid-19 lockdowns lifted even as we enter the third year of the coronavirus pandemic, offices are reopening and employees are now gradually getting back to a regular work routine where some dread long commutes and traffic snarls while others are glad to return to physical offices and indulge in much needed social interaction with colleagues over in-person meetings, team lunches, coffee breaks and more. As we prepare for this phased return to pre-pandemic normalcy, nutrition plays a key role in getting our brain and body ready for the daily grind and snacking through the day is just another one of the inevitable aspects of in-office work life.
Given there is an urge to munch constantly, especially when in the company of others or to relieve stress, unchecked and unhealthy snacking takes a toll on many people’s overall health. However, Dr Irfan Shaikh, Head Adult Nutrition, Scientific and Medical Affairs at Abbott’s Nutrition Business, comforts, “If you are fond of snacking, you don’t need to forgo it. You just need to be smart about your food choices.”
If you are wonder how does one find the perfect snack that is healthy but also tasty and can help satiate food cravings or what is the right combination of protein, fats and carbohydrates to fuel one’s day, Dr Irfan Shaikh advised, “One way of ensuring that you are on top of your diet plan is by indulging a healthy, timely snack to fuel your body with energy and essential nutrients. Opt for foods like a steamed sprouts salad topped generously with chopped cucumber, cottage cheese and tomatoes. You can also include boiled black chana or beans with a tablespoon of lemon juice. A bowl of yogurt with raw vegetables is an equally filling and healthy option. Add celery, carrots, broccoli and tomatoes to make the dish delicious and rich in protein and calcium.”
He added, “Smoothies are another healthy option that will tingle your taste buds and are easy to make. Pick fresh fruits or vegetables, such as spinach, amla or cucumber, and add refreshing coconut water to the mix. Add five to six soaked almonds and one or two walnuts for extra protein, and you’re good to go. Other light snacks, such as oats, idli or homemade dhokla, ensure that you’ll stave off those hunger pangs. On the post-meal pick-me-up, choose desserts such as custard apple kheer with jaggery (gur) and coconut milk or ragi coconut laddu, which is all ragi flour, coconut, jaggery and crunchy peanuts.”
Highlighting that snacking is typically more due to habit or carvings rather than hunger, Dr Irfan Shaikh pointed out that you snack when you are bored, angry, overjoyed or even surrounded by fun, social company. He said, “If you do not track your snack intake, it’s easy to go overboard. Sure, a bag of chips or a handful of namkeen can seem insignificant as a one off but the impact on your health is huge if becomes a regular feature. Strive to make healthier food choices and eat only when you are truly hungry.”
He listed a few tips to note when adding snacks to your meal plan:
1. Control portion sizes to measure your snack intake
2. Plan at least two snacks each day to avoid impulsive snacking
3. Count the nutritional value of your snacks toward your overall diet plan
4. Keep fruits and nuts in your bag for healthy on-the-go snack options
5. Consult your doctor or dietician for snacking suggestions tailored to your condition
6. For a guilt-free way to power through your day, try munching on fresh fruits and vegetables, or even unflavoured popcorn
Thoughtful snacking decisions at workplace can make life healthy and happy. Having the right food available when hunger strikes means you’ll be more likely to make a healthy snacking decision and this is sure to take you a long way.